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Title: Empathy and Embeddedness in Social Science Research: The Contrasting Methods of Malinowski and Elwin
Other Titles: Social Trends, A Peer-reviewed National Journal, Vol. 8, 31-March-2021, pp 147 - 168
Authors: Roy, Sinjini
Keywords: Empirical research
participant observation
fieldwork as interaction
negotiated information
Issue Date: 31-Mar-2021
Publisher: University of North Bengal
Abstract: Empirical, field-based research in Social Sciences, are neither bereft of empathy (the will to do good to and feel for others) and embeddedness (involving oneself with the process of transformation, while, at the same time, drawing consciousness about it) nor are they obstacles in the way to draw an understanding about social reality. This is the social science tradition that we inherit from Marx and the post-Marxists (the scholars of German Critical School, Gramsci, Althusser and so on), Levi-Strauss, C. Wright Mills, and the feminists starting Simone de Beauvior to Julia Kristeva or Judith Butler. The phenomenologists like Edmund Husserl and Alfred Schutz have taught us how empathy for others’ subjective experiences and cognition is the central component of the reflexive method through which the subjective knowledge can be transcended into intersubjective (hence universal) knowledge. This is in the space of the humanist social science tradition which does not conform to the “scientific” nonnormative methodological tradition popularized by Comte, Durkheim or Weber. In this paper I have discussed about the essences of the “scientific” (read objective) and the empathetic methodological traditions of two noted anthropologists, Bronislaw Malinowski and Verrier Elwin, which represent two contrasting methods (although one cannot claim that Malinowski never expressed empathy for the native people he studied), and find out if one could strike a balance between the two traditions while highlighting the significance of empathy and embeddedness in field-based research.
ISSN: 2348-6538
Appears in Collections:Vol. 08 (March 2021)

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